TCA: FX's 'The Americans' Explores 'Emotional Cost' of Spying

Complete Coverage: TCA Winter Press Tour

Pasadena, Calif. -- The upcoming fourth season of FX's The Americans explores the "emotional cost" of spying, as star Keri Russell put it during the show's panel at TCA winter press tour.

As the edge-of-the-seat storyline of a Russian sleeper-cell couple embedded in suburban America unfolds, exec producer Joel Fields said the series has entered its "second act," if a show's run can be viewed through the storytelling prism of three distinct acts. The series will likely end after the fifth or sixth season, he said.

"Whether it takes a fifth season or a fifth and sixth season, we'll have to see," he said. "We have the support of the network to do what's right for the show."

Always more of a critical darling than a potent commercial proposition, the show made it back from the brink of cancellation during its early run, aided by the multiplatform options that have allowed viewers to discover it over the past couple of years. While Fields says the nervousness he and co-creator and exec producer Joe Weisberg felt during the first season or two due to its ratings struggles has subsided a bit thanks to support from a select but loyal fan base, as well as FX brass, "To the extent that we can feel less anxious, they have helped," Fields said.

Prior to the panel, FX Networks chief John Landgraf in his executive session outlined the market forces that caused a 13% drop in FX's average primetime ratings in 2015 compared with 2014. 

As The Americans continues to mine actual historical moments from the late Cold War that its Gen X audience recalls from their own upbringing, Fields mentioned one that's due in Season 4 is when ABC aired the milestone nuclear-war made-for The Day After in 1983.

"I watched it again and it really holds up," Fields marveled. "So powerful. .... Anyone who remembers that knows where they were when that was on TV."